An investigation into British Gas’ switching terms has been launched by energy regulator Ofgem.
The probe will examine whether British Gas has breached Ofgem rules on switching, in particular looking at whether customers who switch tariffs have been treated fairly, and probing whether British Gas has incorrectly charged switchers early exit fees.
The move follows concerns raised by consumer website, MoneySavingExpert.com, which found that Big Six providers British Gas and Npower had wrongly told customers who were in the final weeks of their fix that they'd have to pay a fee to switch to a different provider – with some told they'd be charged up to £60.
This is despite Ofgem rules stating that providers should not charge termination fees for any switch should you choose to switch that takes place within the 49 day ‘switching period’ before the expiry of a fixed term contract.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, says: “The rules are very plain; you cannot and should not be charged exit penalties if your switchover takes place within the last 49 days of your energy fix. At least two firms – British Gas and Npower – have wrongly put that they would charge in their official literature. At best they are careless in the way they treat customers; at worst that they are trying to bully them into staying with misinformation.”
However, Ofgem adds that “the opening of this investigation does not imply that we have made any findings about non-compliance”. It has only opened an investigation into British Gas, not into Npower.
In a statement, British Gas would only say: “British Gas will co-operate fully with Ofgem to address the issues raised in today’s announcement.”